Memorial Sloan-Kettering breast surgeon Tari King says that understanding the biology of an individual tumor and its risk of recurrence is changing the way doctors treat breast cancer. For example, research has shown that surgery to remove lymph nodes that contain a small number of cancer cells does not affect outcomes. Preserving those types of lymph nodes may spare many women from a more extensive surgery and complications such as lymphedema.
Researchers are also looking at genetic mutations that may predict a tumor’s sensitivity to different treatments and the risk that it will spread or return. Advances in medical technology, combined with a multidisciplinary approach to research and patient care, is revolutionizing the way doctors view and treat breast cancer.